Histamine Tapes – Mellow Fruitfulness

The autumn batch from Vermont’s Histamine Tapes features a double dose of drone from Brian James Griffith and Dominic Razlaff. The label signatures of “reclaimed tapes” and “breathing new life into unwanted ephemera” are still present. In the case of Brain James Griffith, the j-cards are sourced from a book on pottery; Dominic Razlaff’s are made from a book on drawing. Available in digital download and cassette at https://histaminetapes.bandcamp.com, the Inner Work cassette and download includes the bonus track reverse of side A. There is a bundle option for this batch as well.

Brian James Griffith – Inner Work (HT012)

Brain James Griffith takes us on an analog journey full of soft tones and light crackles. The sounds set a scene of quiet contemplation and introspection. The tone shifts from clear to fuzzy, like gazing at a picture with the focus adjusting. Reverse sounds create dreamlike feelings, time flowing at irregular speeds.

Pulling back the curtain a bit, Inner Work was not achieved by your typical drone synth setup. Piccolo bass is a seldom used but beautiful lead instrument, and not the most obvious of choices for long ambient passages. Manipulated through a modular system (with accents from a Casiotone and a radio), Griffith creates a whole new galaxy of possibilities rooted in an instrument mostly associated with fusion or New Age music, and shows that this genre isn’t close to being out of ideas.

Dominic Razlaff – Five Pieces (HT013)

Dominic Razlaff aka DR is a sound artist from Braunschweig, Germany. Razlaff utilizes synthesizers, acoustic instruments (such as ukulele & cavaquinho), field recordings, tape loops, and granular synthesis to “create melancholy ambient/drone soundscapes.” The mood of the album is seasonal, a fitting autumnal feel.

The drones that make up Five Pieces stretch over a virtual horizon, choir-like sounds harmonizing endlessly on loop. Slowly forming like a glacier, beautiful melodies unfold, conjuring clouds moving across the sky, the slow swirl of the cosmos and its mysteries. Acoustic notes emerge and linger as though sounded in a cathedral. DR is a seasoned artist that knows his craft and instruments well.

When listening to these cassettes, the Fripp/Eno comparisons are easy to make – and do not imply derivative work. Both artists skillfully use the past as a starting point to continue a journey of new instrumental sounds. Histamine Tapes adds their warm, handmade lo-fi quality to the ever-growing field of cassette releases, bringing fresh ideas to your ears.

– Jeff Brown

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